Dubai Marina Mall has announced plans to charge customers for parking for the first time.
A trial period to allow shoppers to get used to the idea is currently under way, but no payment is needed until towards the end of the month.
When the scheme goes live on July 21, customers will still be able to park for free for the first three hours.
After that, however, motorists will be charged Dh20 for every hour they spend over the free, three-hour limit.
Exceptions include free parking during the weekends and on public holidays. Cinema-goers will get an additional two hours of free parking by validating their tickets at the cinema counter.
On Monday, Emaar Properties, the developer of the mall, said the scheme was introduced "to improve customer experience for mall shoppers."
Some shoppers interviewed by The National expressed skepticism over the plans while others welcomed the idea.
“The charge will make it unattractive for people and I will think twice about going to Dubai Marina now,” said Sarah Ray Harding, 51, a fitness instructor.
“I would imagine few people would be in favour of this.”
Paid for parking is already in place at other malls in Dubai, with the Mall of the Emirates allowing shoppers four hours of free parking before charging incremental amounts. Malls including Deira City Centre and BurJuman introduced parking fares to encourage shoppers to use public transport. Paid parking at those malls also dissuades people from parking their cars at mall lots for the day and using public transport to get to work.
The Dubai Marina Mall scheme is expected to be in operation from 6am to 6pm from Sunday to Thursday.
Nicole Wickham, 37, a South African travel agent, said she expected the move to prove an unpopular decision.
“I think the only people who will be negatively affected are those who work in the area and have been using the mall for free parking,” she said.
“I’ve seen people complaining on Facebook about it because now they have to pay for parking while they work.
“It can’t be very profitable to have a full car park in the mall but nobody paying for it, so it makes sense they would introduce this.”
Other shoppers welcomed the charges, suggesting the scheme would free up often crowded parking space.
“It’s annoying to be stuck looking for a parking spot because people who aren’t even shopping are using all the spaces,” said Egyptian research analyst Hend Abdel Satter, 31.
Syrian businessman Gazwan Alrafai agreed. “It’s going to free up parking spaces so if anything it means more people will use the mall,” he said.